Pictured: Winning design by Nate McDemott, 9, of Thousand Oaks in a national contest hosted by Blessings in the Backpack. 

Local student wins national contest

Nate McDermott, 9, of Thousand Oaks showing his winning design that will be on an exclusive t-shirt with Blessings in a Backpack.

Nate McDermott, 9, of Thousand Oaks, has created the winning t-shirt design in a national contest aimed at building support for preventing childhood hunger in the United States. His design will be on a limited edition shirt which will be sold to benefit Blessings in a Backpack, a Kentucky-based nonprofit organization that provides meals for food insecure students on the weekends, when they don’t receive meals at school. The organization feeds over 88,000 children in 1,092 schools across the country. 

As part of the prize, McDermott’s teacher, Ms. Julie Herder, will receive a $1,000 Amazon gift card, donated by the Spartan Kids Foundation to spend on her classroom wish list. 

For more information about Blessings in a Backpack and to request a notification when the shirt is in stock, visit www.blessingsinabackpack.org/shirt-request-form/

County COVID death count up to 183

On Monday, Nov. 30, Ventura County reported that eight additional people had died as a result of complications from COVID-19. Those deaths occured between Nov. 9 and Nov. 21, bringing the total number of people who have died from the coronavirus, as of Nov. 21, to 183. 

The eight people included four women and four men, and they were between the ages of 59 and 92. The county reports they all had “comorbidities,” which is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the “simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.” 

The county reported an uptick in the number of people requiring hospitalization, with 99 in hospitals across the county and 25 in the ICU. 

Rite Aid adds free testing sites

Rite Aid has added free self-swab testing by appointment at two Ventura County locations. Anyone ages 13 and up can register online. For those under 18, a parent or guardian must be present and consent to the testing. A government issued ID must be shown. Testing with Rite Aid is available at two locations in Ventura County: 

  • Port Hueneme: 2480 Victoria Ave.

  • Santa Paula: 221 E. Harvard Blvd. 

Testing hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Register online at www.riteaid.com

These two locations are in addition to the multiple free testing locations managed by Ventura County across the county. 

LULAC VC supports Padilla for Harris replacement

In a Nov. 23 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Ventura County chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) asked Newsom to replace Sen. Kamala Harris with current California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. 

“The Latino population in California has never been represented by a Latino/a Senator. Latinos have proven they are civically engaged and deserve a voice in the Senate,” stated the letter from LULAC signed by Cynthia Salas, LULAC director for Dist. 17. 

Salas pointed out in the letter that Latinos make up 40 percent of the population but only 3 percent of the population in the Senate. She also touted Padillas’s stance on job creation, the environment and education as evidence of his qualifications to replace Harris. 

Newsom has authority to appoint Harris’s replacement once electors confirm her being elected as the Vice President of the United States. 

Meal kits provided by Ventura, AERA partnership

On Nov. 24, for the 19th year in a row,100 families in need received Thanksgiving meal kits through a partnership between the city of Ventura and AERA Energy. 

Families came to Westpark Community Center on West Harrison Avenue off of Ventura Avenue to pick up a turkey and all the fixings, including mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls, yams and a pie. Other event partners include Downtown Ventura Lions Club, WinCo, and Denny’s in Ventura. 

AERA operates the Ventura Oil Field, the highest producing oil field in the county, located around Ventura Avenue. 

Farm labor contractor charged with fraud

On Nov. 15, the Ventura County District Attorney’s office announced that 49-year-old Fillmore resident Robert Zermeno Delara has been charged on multiple counts of felony fraud related to allegations that from 2013 to 2018 he dissuaded employees of his two farm-labor contracting businesses from seeking medical care, and that he failed to report workplace injuries. It is alleged that his actions resulted in losses of premiums to worker compensation carriers of approximately $555,326 plus additional costs associated with denial of benefits. 

Delara’s two businesses, Pacific Coast Farm Labor and B&R Farm Labor, provided farm workers to local growers throughout Ventura County. The common practice of hiring labor contractors results in the grower being separated from direct responsibility for the working environment for the people who are doing the work of harvesting. 

According to Andrew Reid, Deputy District Attorney, the court has scheduled Delara’s arraignment for Dec. 8 in courtroom 12. The maximum penalty for all crimes he’s charged with is 11 years.